The Appellate Group

State v. Barnett

State v. Barnett, 2023 UT 20 (Pearce, A.C.J.)


Defendant was already serving probation one on felony conviction when he was arrested and charged with felony crimes. The State argued that the Utah Constitution forbade the district court from setting bail on a “double felony defendant.” The district court did not agree and set bail. On appeal of an interlocutory order, the Utah Supreme Court affirmed, holding:

  • The district court correctly determined that the plain language of the Utah Constitution provides the district court with discretion to set bail when there is an alleged “double felony defendant.”
  • Practice tip: In most circumstances, bail is guaranteed. But under the three instances outlined in Utah Constitution article 1, section (8), bail is not guaranteed. Instead, in those instances the district court has discretion to set bail or not.
  • Practice tip: Because the bail provision was amended in 1988, the Utah Supreme Court looked to the voter information pamphlet to determine the original public meaning of the plain language.

Read the full court opinion